the Dartmouth sports fan tradition -- homophobic, antisemitic, anti-women intimidation & screams at the Dartmouth-Harvard squash match
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Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, is one of the prestigious "Ivy League" colleges in the United States -- along with one of its league sports competitors, Harvard.
Dartmouth is a little different from the other Ivy League schools. Academically Dartmouth is a brilliant school with top-tier, world-class professors. But it has an ancient tradition of male students who are rich, drunk thugs, who didn't get into Dartmouth for their brains, but because they come from rich, drunk families and their dads also went to Dartmouth.
The Valley News
White River Junction, Vermont USA
Saturday 5 December 2009
Slur Harvard Athletes
During Squash Match
by Tris Wykes
Valley News Staff Writer
Hanover, New Hampshire -- A group of about 10 fans led by Big Green men's soccer players pelted Harvard competitors with obscene language and what was interpreted by the parents of a visiting player as an anti-Semitic slur Wednesday when the Dartmouth men's and women’s squash teams lost to the Crimson at Berry Sports Center.
“I was upset by the homophobic and anti-Semitic comments,” said Susan Cohen, who attended the match with her husband, Jerry, to support their son Franklin, a member of the Harvard team. “I don't care if my son wins a squash match, but it's upsetting to hear those things and it’s embarrassing for Dartmouth.”
The heckling was witnessed by a Valley News reporter covering the match. Asked about the incident Thursday, Dartmouth administrators said they would investigate.
Dartmouth student Bryan Giudicelli said Thursday he and his soccer teammates are routinely cursed at and heckled while playing on the road and were seeking to create a similarly intimidating atmosphere at Berry. However, he said the soccer players and some Alpha Delta fraternity brothers didn't realize how hostile such behavior would appear in the crowded squash courts.
“I think we created a good home atmosphere but the way we did it was uncalled for and I understand that now,” Giudicelli said later, stressing that he did not harass any of the Harvard women competitors. “We don't know the etiquette, so it came off much harsher than we intended it to be. I got caught up in the atmosphere and the moment and I'm embarrassed at what happened.”
Bob Ceplikas, Dartmouth's acting athletic director, attended the early part of the matches but departed for a women's soccer team banquet before the vitriol became evident.
“We take very seriously the whole concept of good sportsmanship and we work very hard to encourage that,” Ceplikas said, noting that a statement on the issue is read before Dartmouth home games at venues with a public address system. “Especially anything that interferes with an event in any way. We haven't gathered all the appropriate facts on this situation, but once we have, we'll follow through as we feel is necessary.”
Words such as “dick,” “fag” and “----sucker” were repeatedly shouted at the visitors Wednesday, many times with “f------” added as an adjective. Harvard's female players eventually sought the protection of an assistant coach after they said they were called “whores” and “sluts” while they cheered on their male peers. While playing his match, Franklin Cohen was told he had small genitals and asked if he liked bagels, a phrase his mother viewed as a reference to the family's Jewish surname.
‘Doughnut or Bagel'
Giudicelli said Susan Cohen confronted his group about the bagel phrase immediately after her son's match and was told it referred to Franklin Cohen having a zero or “bagel” on the scoreboard at a certain juncture in play.
“We discussed whether to say doughnut or bagel and obviously we decided to use the wrong word,” said Giudicelli, a junior defender from Emerald Hills, Calif., located between San Francisco and San Jose. “There was no anti-Semitism behind that.”
The event, at which the improved Big Green men had hoped to upset Harvard in Ivy League play for the first time in recent memory, attracted a crowd of roughly 300 to Berry's narrow second level. During team introductions on the main court before the matches began, Dartmouth was given a rowdy standing ovation while its foes were roundly booed. As the Crimson players walked to their various courts, they passed within inches of screaming spectators seated in the front rows of a bleacher section holding about 200 people.
Once play began, it was standing-room only as fans packed three and four deep in front of some of the glassed-in courts lining either side of the hall. Dartmouth points prompted wild cheering and occasional banging on the clear, back walls of some courts. A Big Green student dressed in a full-body parrot costume and another dressed as a cartoon bear led cheers and taunts.
Chants and comments such as “Harvard sucks” and “You're so rattled” began to give way to harder-edged comments as the matches heated up. Mike Lewis, playing No. 6 for Dartmouth against Cohen, is a member of Alpha Delta, which is located only a few hundred yards from Berry. Lewis' fraternity brothers were out in force and congregated at his court.
About half an hour into the Lewis-Cohen match, Giudicelli sat down next to a Crimson team member officially scoring one of the matches. Giudicelli distracted the visitor by draping an arm over his shoulder and speaking in his ear. Soon, Cohen was targeted with the bagel comments and obscenities and also called a “coward” and a “despicable human being.”
During a brief break between games, Giudicelli faced Cohen's parents, who are from the Boston area, from a distance of ten feet and screamed, “Did you raise your son to be a cheater?”, apparently referring to several recently disputed points. Another young male repeated the question while standing directly behind the couple, who ignored the comments. Cohen's father later said they had never experienced such treatment while following their son during his 8-year squash career.
“There's nothing wrong with being on top of the action or heckling,” Jerry Cohen said. “But I thought the fans here were horrible. Having spirit is outstanding, but being purposely off-color is not the way to cheer for your team.”
Dartmouth's first-year head coach Hansi Wiens said he was unaware of the abusive fan behavior until queried by a reporter midway through the match. He then asked to be steered towards Cohen's parents and headed in their direction, saying he would apologize.
“It's only a few fans causing a problem and it's mainly the soccer guys,” Wiens said. “I wish I could stop it but I can't stop it. That is not squash.”
‘Some Funny Things'
Dartmouth player Lewis said that because the Berry courts' back walls extend only about seven feet high, with open air and nets above them, “You can hear pretty much everything that's said” by spectators. He added, “There were some really funny things being said, and it's a shame if there was other stuff to take away from that.”
After Lewis defeated Cohen, a group of Dartmouth fans including Giudicelli occupied the front rows of the main court bleachers while the Big Green's Nicholas Sisodia challenged Harvard's Richard Hill. While amusing chants were shouted at Hill, the Singapore native was also subjected by Giudicelli’s group to some of the same obscenities that had been lobbed at Cohen. In addition, a young man seated near the soccer group raised his shirt and asked nearby Harvard women's players if they wanted “a piece of this.”
Soon after, a Harvard women's player spoke to a Crimson men's competitor, telling him she had been repeatedly harassed while cheering and that “being here felt like an assault. This is supposed to be a game.” She later requested that she not be identified for fear of Internet reprisal.
Shortly before the start of Hill and Sisodia's final game, Harvard coach Satinder Bajwa exited the main court in front of Giudicelli's group. Insults rained down but the coach gave no reaction and never slowed. Chris Smith, one of the Crimson's assistant coaches, said he knew venturing to Dartmouth would be a trip to hostile turf.
“When we've come up here the last few years, this place has been packed,” Smith said. “We tell our kids, especially the freshmen, they have to be ready for it and not to respond. Having the spectators so close and organized in their cheering is fun, but it can get out of hand.”
In e-mail exchanges with the Valley News Thursday, Bajwa declined comment other than to write “the matter will be dealt with internally with the two institutions involved.” Saying that his program did not complain to Dartmouth about the behavior, Smith nonetheless wrote: “We were aware of all of that going on and did handle things as best we could to not react in the moment as a team. I had all the girls around me at one point, very upset, looking for help. Those were very bad incidents.”
Continued Smith: “The Dartmouth coaching staff and players were apologetic to us after the match and I even saw their coaches doing crowd control during the match. College squash matches and fans have gotten out of hand at other schools in the past but crowd control and security were in place to make things stop. I think it's safe to say that next time a big match is (at Dartmouth), some crowd control security or upper (administrators) might be on hand to get the few bad ones out.”
The Harvard men, 3-0 and ranked No. 5 in the country, defeated No. 8 Dartmouth 6-3 and dropped the Big Green's record to 3-1. The Crimson women posted a 9-0 victory. The schools are not scheduled to meet in squash again during the regular season.
Tris Wykes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (603) 727-3227.